Join Date: Sep 2004
Bikes: 2008 Davidson Custom Titanium, Custom Seven Steel Tandem, 1981 Shogun Touring Bike
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When I started commuting last year, I had not been riding for years. I was motivated to do something about getting more exercise and cycling was a favorite activity when I was in my 20's. At 44 and after some years of sitting on my butt, I was worried about conking out on the hills and in headwinds over the 33 mile round trip. I went out and bought a Giant LAFree Lite electric assist bike.
The LAFree Lite is an ingeneous design. It has no throttle, just an off/low/high power switch. It automatically applies drive force to the chain proportional to the force you put on the pedals. If you are struggling up a hill and slowly mashing on the pedals, you get lots of help. If your gliding along on the flat at a high cadence, the assistance tapers off to nothing. The assistance also rolls off at about 18 MPH. The bike weighs about 50 lbs, so it is rideable with the power off, if a bit slow (not like some 70+ lb. e-bikes). The power system levels the hills and gives the rider confidence. The position is upright enough to see everything, Starting out from traffic lights on hills is quick and easy.
At first I just barely made the 17 mile ride to work without running out of battery but the more I used it the less power I used. It was measurable by the number of lights on the battery at the end of the ride. As the months went by, I started riding my old road bike again on some days to get more speed and my mountain bike for variety. Eventually I pretty much stopped riding the electric bike and started adding long rides on the weekends. Now I ride the electric bike only on the day after an especially tough, hilly 60+ mile Sunday ride and use about 1/2 of the battery power getting to work.
I'm over 7000 miles for the year, including 8 metric centuries, 4 centuries, and a one-day double century.
I don't think I would have done it without the electric bike to help me get off the dime.